Here, the name pretty much says it all: if you’re looking for a café that specializes in bagels, no further than the top of campus, then congratulations, you’ve found it.
Late in the morning on a Sunday, there was a line out the door for people buying coffee, bagels and bagel sandwiches. The building, with a small seating area downstairs and more seating options in an upstairs room with a balcony, has a cozy feel to it. It has a half-wood interior, with the second floor balcony’s unfinished wood design alongside tile floors and plain white paint. Artwork covers the walls, and there are plants throughout the upstairs.
Unfortunately, the long line was in no small part due to exceptionally slow and seemingly unprofessional service. The staff was dressed in sweatpants and sweatshirts — bordering on pajamas, and seemed to spend a lot of time talking to each other and inefficiently completing orders even during the mad out-the-door rush. They were nice and friendly, but the slow service is an unequivocal negative. When you deal with a line and less-than-optimal order times, the food can’t just be good — it has to be worth the wait.
Speaking of the food, I had a sausage egg and cheese sandwich on an everything bagel, with a medium iced coffee and a coffee cake muffin. Starting with the iced coffee, which you prepare yourself with cream and sugar, it had a nice and subtle flavor but was disappointingly watery and weak, even before the ice melted. It was a light breakfast roast with very low acidity; perfect to go with a bagel, but unfortunately I got the impression that there was too little coffee used in too large of a batch, making for a very watered-down taste. For those who like their coffee weak, though, this may be welcomed, especially when you consider the proliferation of burnt, acrid, over-roasted beans (I’m looking at you, Starbucks).
The bagel wasn’t toasted well, but it had a solid, not-doughy consistency and the seeds on the outside were very strong and present. It had an overwhelming salty flavor on the outside, but it was mostly balanced by the sweet flavor of the sausage and the plain egg. I didn’t get much cheese flavor but at least it wasn’t overly cheesy or melting out of the bagel. It was overall a solid breakfast sandwich, but the salt kept it from being a 10. Maybe a plain bagel would be better, but then it might be a little bland, especially because the bagels don’t seem all that well-risen, and the cheese isn’t salty. It’s much better than what you can get for a combo at the dining hall or at Dunkin’ Donuts, though, by a significant margin.
My coffee cake muffin was acceptable, and tasted about the same as every other coffee cake muffin that I’ve ever eaten, but it had too much cinnamon. It had a slightly processed, overly sweet taste like a cinnamon poptart for that reason. It’s a great idea in terms of dessert, but on its own, maybe a little too sweet to eat; it would go well with black coffee.
I paid, before tax, $2.50 for a medium iced coffee, $4.40 for the sandwich (for some reason, the menu makes it seem like an upcharge to order both meat and cheese with an egg sandwich), and $2 for the muffin – $9 and change after tax. I’d say that it’s worth it to hang out here for a while, all things considered. It’s a nice escape from a dining hall setting, and better-than-expected quality for something so close to campus, despite the issues with service and the coffee. I hesitate to offer my highest recommendation because of the “Z” at the end of the name.